Casual-dining pioneer T.G.I. Friday’s has invested in elevating its menu ingredients. On the protein side, two recent upgrades include Norwegian salmon and Black Angus Rib-Eye—both of which are featured in LTOs this winter.
Back to Jack
Friday’s signature Jack Daniel’s items remain top sellers, so the R&D team expanded on that theme. The salmon is marinated in a house-made whiskey brine with hints of citrus, soy and ginger, then fire-grilled with Friday’s proprietary smoky-sweet Jack Daniel’s sauce. “We challenged the team to take it to the next level and they succeeded,” says COO Ricky Richardson.
Steps to success
The whiskey brine is new, as is the presentation. The salmon is served on a sizzling skillet with roasted vegetables, wedge-cut fries and grilled jalapeño corn bread. The corn bread was the biggest challenge. “We wanted a wedge shape and visible kernels,” Richardson explains. It took several tries with different size corn kernels and textures before it met the team’s approval.
Friday’s purchases Norwegian farmed salmon from a producer in Norway, working through their seafood vendor; it’s delivered frozen and plated as a 7-ounce fillet. “We went directly to the source and considered several options before we chose this one,” Richardson reports. “We’re very pleased with the consistent quality, flavor and texture of the salmon.”
The salmon dish was also introduced as a new combination entree. Guests can opt to add skewered shrimp in two styles—Crispy Cajun or Grilled Scampi—preps that have been on the menu and proven very popular. Wild-caught langostinos in a mushroom herb sauce are another option. The Norwegian salmon entrée sells for $12 to $13 as is, and $16 to $17 with the seafood add-ons.
So far, feedback has been very positive from both guests and franchisees. “Getting a new Jack Daniels item on the menu is like pushing an open door,” Richardson comments. Whether the LTO remains permanently on the menu is not yet decided. “We’ll continue to evaluate its performance and make that determination in the spring,” he adds.
Going forward, the R&D team will continue to stay close to Friday’s positioning as an American bar and grill as they develop new LTOs.